Albany, New York- (7/10/20)- State Senator Kevin Parker (D-Brooklyn) has introduced a bill that would establish a residency requirement for NYPD officers. The legislation would require all New York City police officers to be a resident of either Brooklyn, Queens, Bronx, Manhattan or Staten Island. Under Senator Parker’s bill, officers that are employed prior to January 1, 2021 will be exempt from the residency requirement; new-hires employed after such date must live within the five boroughs.
Currently, the makeup of the New York City’s police force is not proportional to the demographics of the city as a whole. According to the NYPD’s own 2019 Enforcement Report, white police officers of all ranks account for about 50% of the NYPD, while Black and Hispanic officers are about 15% and 28% of the NYPD, respectively. In a city where white residents account for 33% percent of the population, these figures are indicative of a stark racial divide in our police departments. This new legislation will bring about a more diverse representation to the largest and oldest police department in the nation, so that it may accurately reflect the communities it serves and protects.
Independent of the significance of diversity, police residency is particularly important so that officers truly understand the communities they serve. . In a city such as New York, it is imperative that officers are familiar with the culture and norms of the city’s residents.
Senator Parker had the following to say about his legislation “It's critical that we cultivate better community connections between police and residents. We have to ensure that officers who are deployed to communities throughout New York City have a better understanding and respect for the culture of those living there. Police officers who live in the city they serve and belong to that community, are more inclined to be connected to the residents and their jobs, beyond a paycheck.”
The goal of the bill is to help police better serve communities. This is particularly important in communities of color, where we have seen a lack of positive police engagement. Senator Parker concluded “This bill would help establish a bond between police officers and the community they serve”
If we truly seek to advance the goal of “community policing” beyond its current state of empty-gestures, then we must take seriously the notion that officers should be recruited from, or live in, the communities they serve; anything less is illusory.
This bill seeks to end the disconnection and lack of cultural continuity currently felt with a simple method--requiring officers to live where they work. Establishing a bond between police officers and the community they serve, would hopefully create a police force more likely to be invested not only in the safety of the community, but also in the health and future of the community as well.